A Doctor’s Duty

By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation

The late columnist Charles Krauthammer had a provocative way of writing that cut through to the heart of the matter.

His son, Daniel. recently released a posthumous collection of his father’s writings, entitled The Point of It All. While Krauthammer did not embrace the pro-life viewpoint on abortion, his column on “A Doctor’s Duty” proclaims the physician’s role in preserving innocent human life.

Most people are unaware that Krauthammer was a physician. In his first year studying medicine at Harvard Medical School he became permanently paralyzed from the waist down after a diving board accident. But he eventually returned to medical school graduating to become a psychiatrist.

Krauthammer wrote, “Even if the patient asks you to, you may not kill him.”

He went on to blast the trend toward doctor-prescribed suicide.

“In some advanced precincts–Holland and Oregon, for example, this is thought to be a quaint idea, and the state permits physicians to perform ‘assisted suicide.’ That is a terrible mistake, for the state and for the physician. And not only because it embarks us on a slippery slope where putting people to death in the name of some higher humanity becomes progressively easier.”

Krauthammer explained, “Even if there were no slippery slope, there is a deeply important principle at stake. Doctors are healers, not killers. You cannot annihilate the subject you are supposedly serving–it is not just a philosophical absurdity, it constitutes the most fundamental violation of the Hippocratic oath. You are not permitted to do any harm to the patient, let alone the ultimate harm.”

That is exactly what assisted suicide is–the ultimate harm. May public officials now take Krauthammer’s immortal words to heart.